By Mary Cordaro
The bedroom is the most important room in the home. While many of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors, about one-third of our lives is spent in the bedroom. Transforming the bedroom into a healthy, environmentally clean and comfortable retreat is one of the most important steps we can take to improve our overall health and well-being. For those who have allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities or frequent colds and flu, a healthy, natural bedroom free of pollutants can not only give you relief, but also provide a big boost to your immune system. For the healthy person, the healthy bedroom is pure prevention for those of all ages, and most importantly for children, whose developing bodies are much more vulnerable.
Pollutants in the home, including dust and dust mites, mold, chemicals, electromagnetic fields, lack of fresh air and overheating affect our body's ability to truly rest and heal during sleep. During the night, we shed metabolic waste, detox and regenerate. Unimpeded, this wondrous, complex process promotes better immunity and vigor so that we can better handle pollutants during the day. Because we are physically most vulnerable at night, however, contaminants commonly found in bedrooms, such as toxic chemicals, dust mites and low levels of mold in beds and bedding can have serious short and long-term effects. Common symptoms include chronic sinus problems, feeling "stuffed up," sneezing, runny nose, sleeping poorly and/or waking up with fatigue, headaches, foggy thinking, joint pain and skin irritations.
The most important piece of furniture in the home is the bed. Think about it: for about one-third of our lives, our entire body is in close, direct contact with the materials we sleep in and on. And we literally inhale, at very close range, whatever is in those materials: dust mites and mold in synthetic mattresses that trap moisture, toxic chemicals from fire retardants called semi-volatile organic compounds, particularly those found in poly foams and battings, synthetic chemicals found in glues, fabric treatments and dyes, pesticide residues in conventional wool and cotton battings.
But there's good news: thanks to a fast-growing, "sustainable lifestyle" industry, beautiful, comfortable beds, bedding, linens and textiles made from organic, natural materials are available. Mattresses and bed systems made with high quality, organic wool batting are my preference, because organic wool is naturally fire retardant, wicks and dries moisture away from the body, is naturally dust mite resistant, and cushions the body. Since the average body loses about a pint of vapor into the bed every night, it's important that the battings used in beds and bedding efficiently and effectively wick and dry, so that conditions favorable for mold and dust mites are eliminated. High quality 100% natural latex is a good, comfortable and contouring alternative to metal coils, which can become magnetized in the presence of an electrical environment, creating a subtle type of DC electromagnetic field. Metal can also distort the beneficial, measurable healing frequencies from the earth. Natural fabrics, such as organic cotton sheeting and ticking, eliminate another subtle type of electromagnetic field called "electrostatic charge." The result is that natural surfaces don't attract as much dust, because of the absence of static. Organic fabrics undyed, or dyed with natural pigments are free of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which "outgas" in low levels from conventional, synthetic dyes, as well as permanent fabric treatments. This entire approach eliminates the need for synthetic dust mite barrier covers. Instead, you can work WITH nature by using materials that are naturally healthy and contaminant free. And of course, by purchasing from sustainable companies, you help to promote industries that use renewable resources and create less impact throughout the life cycle of the manufactured products. After all, human and planetary health is integrally connected.
In future newsletters, I'll discuss why it's important to screen and correct for moisture and mold, poor ventilation, contaminants and incorrect pressurization from forced air heating and cooling systems and sources of electromagnetic fields from household wiring. There are many simple, easily implemented steps to improve the health of your bedroom, as well as the rest of the home.
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